If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” continues to gain visibility, interest, and concern among parents, educators, suicide prevention professionals, and the media. The “most tweeted about show of 2017,” “13 Reasons Why” is based on the fictional story of a high schooler named Hannah who dies by suicide and leaves behind cassette recordings for the thirteen people who she feels are responsible for her death. The series graphically portrays difficult issues including a suicide death, bullying, rape, and drunk driving; and raises concerns that glorifying suicide on television may increase risk of suicidal ideation, attempts, and suicides among youth.
Whether they are watching the show or not, youth need support from parents and other trusted adults to process difficult topics like self-harm and to understand the implications of certain choices.
Empowering Youth to Move Beyond the Story
We all have a role to play in helping reinforce in our communities that suicide is not the answer to problems and that reaching out to a trusted adult, friend, or crisis line makes an enormous difference in almost every potentially suicidal situation. Some of the youth calling our YouthLine are watching and being impacted by “13 Reasons Why.” When we talk with youth about any problem, we:
- Meet youth where they’re at and let them know their feelings matter
- Work with youth to figure out next steps (and sometime connect them with resources)
- Don’t judge, give advice, tell youth what to do, or make them feel dumb or unreasonable
Youth are resilient and can separate fact from fiction; however, parents, educators, and other trusted adults must have meaningful conversations with youth about “13 Reasons Why.” Talking openly can help youth process the difficult topics and the implications of certain choices. Conversations are an opportunity to reinforce that suicide is not the answer to problems and that reaching out to a trusted adult or a crisis line makes an enormous difference in almost every potentially suicidal situation.
Guidance, Messaging, and Resources
For School Administrators, Educators and Other Professionals
As your school seeks to address immediate concerns about “13 Reasons Why,” you may find it useful to refer to the National Association of School Psychologists’ “13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators.
We encourage you to evaluate suicide prevention readiness in your school(s) and identify opportunities to improve suicide prevention. You can take key steps today to proactively address the issues of mental health and suicide, assess the needs of your school, and ensure measures are in place to prevent suicide or respond when students are in crisis. The following resources can help you get started:
- Reach out to your school community and parents. Be proactive in starting healthy conversations about mental health and suicide.
- Learn how to implement strategies that allow for screening students who show signs of suicidal ideation.
- Learn and invest in training that helps staff notice common signs of suicidal ideation and be able to act on them. Recommended trainings include:
- Learn and invest in school and student suicide prevention curriculum such as:
- For more comprehensive resources that can help you evaluate and strengthen your suicide prevention readiness, check out:
Additionally, our YouthLine program offers consultation, classroom lessons, and resources to help students tackle common life stressors, normalize getting help instead of struggling alone, destigmatize mental health and substance use issues, and identify a personalized safety net of adults and community services.
Struggling alone, feeling isolated, and dealing with pain is really hard. You don’t have to deal with it alone. There is help and hope. YouthLine offers support for whatever you are going through. Teens are available to help daily from 4-10pm Pacific Time (adults are available by phone at all other times): text “teen2teen” to 839863, call 877-968-8491, chat www.oregonyouthline.org or email [email protected].
Whether watching the show at home, at a friend’s house, or hearing about it from their peers, it’s likely that your child will be exposed to “13 Reasons Why.” Talk with young people, not at them. Ask questions like “How do you feel about 13 Reasons Why?” and then listen. You can create a safe environment for two way conversation and the following resources can help:
- “13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators
- 13 Reasons Why Talking Points
- Are you okay? (video)
- Suicide prevention information for parents
For Members of the Press
While “13 Reasons Why” brings serious and complicated issues to the forefront and invites conversation about a topic that is misunderstood and often stigmatized, the show disregards evidence that shows “certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals” (http://reportingonsuicide.org/). Lines for Life is available to provide information and context about suicide and youth mental health, and we encourage all media outlets to follow evidence-based Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide.